The Jews of Maine

Shabbat Service, Camp Lown, Oakland, 1947

Since Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins at sundown on December 20, here’s an enlightening present for you: A substantial new online exhibit, created by a team including Professor David Freidenreich of Colby College, his students, and MHS staff, that explores the long, rich, and varied experience of Jews in Maine.

Jews have been an important part of Maine life since the Colonial era, and made major contributions to the culture and economy of communities from Portland to Calais. At the same time, Maine Jews have maintained, adapted, nurtured, and expressed their own religious and cultural traditions and identity.

Visit the online exhibit to learn more. MHS is working closely with a number of organizations across Maine to explore, capture, and celebrate this history.

Whole Lotta Reminiscin’ Going On

Calling all Baby Boomers! Calling all Baby Boomers! Some serious nostalgia is taking place less than two weeks from now–on Saturday, June 4, from 1-3:30PM–at Port City Music Hall:

Dave Astor and his show, which aired from 1956-1971, was Maine’s answer to Dick Clark and American Bandstand. It drew teens from high schools in the mid-coast and southwestern regions of Maine on down and ran on WCSH-TV (and, briefly, on WGAN).

Maine Historical Society now owns a huge collection of materials from the show–including hundreds of fantastic photographs–which we are busy cataloging and digitizing to make more accessible to the public. A small album of photos were uploaded to our Facebook page last year–many that also appear on the poster that you see above, but with captions.

We are excited to bring Dave and all his great memories together with Portland notables Tony Boffa, Steve Romanoff, and former Maine Broadcasting System head Fred Thompson, to talk about the show. Alums from a number of episodes will also be on hand to recall what it was like to dance, sing (okay, mostly lip synch), and chat with Dave  on live TV. If you were on the show, be sure to attend and speak up!

And–icing on the cake–the lively conversation will be followed by a be-boppin’, sock-hoppin’ dance party extravaganza! Port City will have bartenders on hand to take your money if you want to wet your whistle between dance floor antics.

If you happen to be a member of Maine Historical Society, you are also invited to the MHS annual meeting, which takes place that morning from 9:30AM-12:30PM across the street at our offices. Fred Thompson will give a talk on the theme of “Looking Back at Television.” Registration is required. Call 774-1822.